Armani Jackets: The Inside Story
by Marcy Tilton
from Threads #83, pp. 40-45
Just as contemporary chefs are lightening up classic recipes, modern couture's most celebrated tailor, Giorgio Armani, is continually reinventing the traditional techniques of his craft. I've closely examined Armani jackets over the years, and I've discovered many techniques that we home sewers can adapt. In the April/May 1999 issue of Threads (#82), I explored a few current Armani styles that could be emulated with commercial patterns. But virtually all of my favorite Armani-inspired construction techniques can be applied to any jacket pattern you think worthy of a technical upgrade.
|Armani's results using home-sewing interfacings? Sure. There's not much difference between what sewers can get and what's used in the factories; the key is knowing how to apply it and where.|
In this article, I'll describe interfacing approaches for the entire jacket and then go layer by layer through an Armani shoulder and sleeve structure. Combined with your usual techniques in the rest of the jacket, these methods represent a good starting place for any modern tailoring project. Feel free to borrow, adapt, and rethink them in the best tradition of Armani and his countless imitators. And I encourage you to take any opportunity that presents itself to examine and appreciate a real Armani garment. In an upcoming article, I'll focus on design details and finishing techniques I've gleaned from studying recent Armani creations.
Fusibles: what goes where
A typical Armani jacket incorporates several kinds of mostly fusible interfacing, along with cotton twill tape, bias and straight-grain strips of rayon lining fabric, and cotton broadcloth, that serve as reinforcements and stabilizers. Listed below are Armani's usual placements for interfacings (see Interfacing Armani-style, below) with suggestions for widely available varieties:
|Click to enlarge image|
|Here's a typical jacket pattern, showing where an Armani Original jacket is generally interfaced. Details on suitable products for each area are provided in the article text.|
Jacket front- The entire jacket front is fused, whether or not it has a collar. The interfacing extends into the seam allowances. My interfacing choices for the jacket front include Satin Weave, Textured Weft, Flex Weave, and SofKnit, all distributed by HTC. Satin Weave, which looks like the interfacing used in Armani jackets, is designed for lightly structured tailored garments; it works well with crepes or spongy textures and adheres to gabardines without bubbling. Textured Weft is soft and spongy with drape and give. It adds substance with drape and will not flatten fabrics with texture. Flex Weave, which also resembles the interfacing used by Armani, is soft, drapey, and flexible. SofKnit is a lightweight, all-bias fusible tricot. I used it on the jacket shown at right. I'll call this body-weight interfacing- whatever type you choose.
Lapels- As I'll describe below, I use an interfacing method on notched and shawl lapels that's not derived from an Armani technique, but it works well to add (and keep) a bit of soft shaping to the roll of a lapel. Called a lapel wedge, it gently forces the lapel to roll back smoothly and curve inward at the lapel point. I trace the shape from the pattern in the lapel area, between the roll line and the seam allowances, as you can see in the drawing above. Use a lighter interfacing than your body-weight choice, such as So Sheer, Flex Weave, or Fusi-Knit, and cut the lengthwise grain along the roll line to stabilize it.
Side panel- If the side panel extends only to the side seam, interface the entire piece as you did the front. If the side panel eliminates a side seam and extends to the back, interface 4 to 6 in. below the armscye with the same interfacing used for the front.
Facings and upper collar- The facings and upper collar are fused with the same interfacing, which can be body weight or lighter. For instance, use Satin Weave for the garment front and SofKnit for facings and upper collar.
Under collars- Armani uses a separate stand and collar for his under collars, as shown, and described in detail in the April/May 1999 issue of Threads (#82). Interface the under collar on the bias, with the stand on the straight grain. Use body-weight interfacing or heavier. For instance, if you interfaced the jacket front, facings, and upper collar with SofKnit, choose Satin Weave, Textured Weft or Flex Weave for the under collar and stand.
Back- On the back, Armani uses a lightweight pellon-like fusible to balance the weight of the front and camouflage the shoulder pad. To get similar results, use a lightweight interfacing that does not leave a ridge. Pellon's Sof-Shape works well here; it's soft and blends with the fabric, adding no bulk. Cut the interfacing on the same grain as the jacket.
Hems- Interface hems at front, back, side, back/side panel, and sleeves using a 2-in.-wide strip of light interfacing like Sof-Shape or SofKnit, cut on the crossgrain. Position the strips so 1/2 in. extends beyond the hem fold, forming a soft edge.